Firearm: Smith & Wesson CSX (MSRP: $609)
Smith & Wesson’s CSX, new for 2022, stands out as one of the truly interesting pistols released at SHOT Show in January. Rather than a polymer frame, it’s aluminum, certainly bucking the trend of most new pistols. Rather than striker-fired, it’s a single-action-only, hammer-fired design. While it deviates from the pack in these regards, it’s not as different as you might think. Dimensionally it’s a twin for Smith & Wesson’s other small 9 mm pistol, the Shield Plus. Barrel length, overall length, height and capacity are the same for the CSX as the Shield Plus, with the CSX having a slight edge on weight – it’s .7 ounce lighter.
The CSX maintains the bladed-safety trigger we’ve come to expect on a carry handgun to guard against accidental discharge if dropped. In addition to the trigger safety, there’s an ambidextrous thumb safety so the CSX can safely be carried with a round in the chamber and the hammer cocked. This is often referred to as Condition 1, and is the same system used by those that carry 1911s or Hi Powers. Adding to the ambidextrous nature of the CSX is a slide-stop lever on the right side of the pistol for left-handed shooters, and that’s not all. Two magazine releases are available for righties and lefties (right-handed is installed from the factory).
Ten rounds of 9 mm are available in the flush-fit magazine, or 12 rounds in a slightly extended version. Opt for the extended version, as it will allow a full three-finger grip on the handgun while only adding a fraction of an inch to the overall height. Smith & Wesson borrowed some clever engineering from its M&P line in both the texturing of the CSX’s frontstrap and also in the interchangeable backstraps that allow the pistol to be better fit to the shooter’s hand. It results in a small, light gun that’s nowhere near as difficult to shoot as you might think—and that’s a good thing indeed.
Sure, the Shield Plus is more along the lines of what we’ve come to expect recently, with its polymer frame and striker-fired operation. Smith & Wesson built the CSX for fans of 1911- and Hi Power-style pistols, and for those who don’t care for striker-fired handguns. If you’re a 1911 devotee and are looking for something easier to carry, or a backup, the CSX is an excellent choice. Heck, on its own it’s a darn good choice, and it’s great to see Smith & Wesson getting back into the metal-frame handgun business again.
Holster: Safariland Model 27 (MSRP: $59)
Highlighting the concealability of the CSX, we’ve opted for Safariland’s Model 27 Inside-the-Waistband concealment holster. Constructed of what the company calls Safarilaminate, it’s a polymer holster that looks like leather, but is molded with an open top for easy re-holstering. Adding to the concealment factor is the J-shaped belt hook that maintains a minimalist presence carried inside the waistband.
Available for a wide variety of handguns, the Model 27 isn’t ambidextrous like the CSX, but it can be ordered for right- or left-handed shooters. Retention can be adjusted by means of a single screw ahead of the trigger guard, and the cant of the holster can be changed as well depending on personal preference.
Knife: CRKT Snap Lock (MSRP: $60)
In keeping with the unique nature of the single-action, metal-frame CSX, we’ve chosen a fitting pocketknife to round out this kit. CRKT’s Snap Lock offers a minimalist knife with a non-traditional opening mechanism. Rather than coming out of the handle like most pocketknives, the Snap Lock swings out from the side by means of a lever. It retracts the same way, offering an interesting take on the EDC pocketknife.
The 2.5-inch, 420 J2 steel drop-point blade is housed in a stainless steel handle, with a reversible pocket clip allowing for right- or left-pocket carry. A paracord lanyard comes with the Snap Lock should you wish to carry it as a neck knife—and at a mere 2.5 ounces in weight, it’s not going to add a lot of heft to your EDC gear no matter how you carry it. If it’s something different you seek, the Snap Lock should cover that handily.